By Charles Brun: Anthony Joshua’s career will be on the line next month when he challenges Oleksandr Usyk for his IBF, WBA & WBO heavyweight titles in their rematch on August 20th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) and his promoter Eddie Hearn may not want to admit that he faces career oblivion if he suffers a second defeat against the talented three-belt unified champion Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), but that’s the cold reality.
Hearn did a great job of taking the badly flawed Joshua out of the 2012 Olympics and steering him to capture three world titles by beating Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko, and Joseph Parker. As soon as Joshua fought a decent heavyweight, he was blown out by Andy Ruiz Jr.
Joshua probably would have lost to Ruiz in the rematch if Andy didn’t eat his way out of his three titles by swelling up to 283 lbs.
Joshua’s career is on the line against Usyk
“On August 20th, Anthony Joshua will attempt to become a three-time heavyweight champion when he rematches Oleksandr Usyk, but there may be much more at stake. Fact or fiction: Anthony Joshua’s career is on the line against Oleksandr Usyk?” said Chris Mannix to DAZN’s JABS.
“Fiction because Anthony Joshua is a worldwide star, and once you have that marketability and your that popular, win, lose or draw, you’re able to come back because people will want to see you against the next man in line,” said Sergio Mora about Joshua.
“We’ll still want to see him fight against Tyson Fury. I’d love to see Joshua against Deontay Wilder. Besides those two guys, how about a big fight against Daniel Dubois across the pond and Joe Joyce across the pond.
“These are all salivating fights. So, NO, his [Joshua] career is not on the line because he’s that popular, he’s that good.
“If you look back at the greatest heavyweights, their greatest fights weren’t in their prime. Mike Tyson, he fought Holyfield, and he wasn’t in his prime. Lennox Lewis wasn’t in his prime. These were massive numbers on pay-per-view. Anthony Joshua is on the same list,” said Mora.
“Mike Tyson also got his butt handed to him by Lenno Lewis in that fight. I’m going to go with fact,” said Mannix. “While I agree with you that Anthony Joshua will still fight, and there will be marketable fights out there for him, particularly in the UK, his career as a top heavyweight is going to be over,” said Mannix.
AJ will no longer be a top heavyweight
“He’s already lost two out of his last four fights. If he loses to Usyk, it’ll be three out of his last five,” Mannix said about Joshua. “He’s 32 years old. If you have that kind of struggle, you’re going to have to rebuild after that.
“You’re going to have to take some lesser fights to maybe get your confidence back. He’ll still be able to draw good numbers at the box office. He’ll still draw good numbers steaming, but he won’t be the top-level heavyweight that he’s been for most of the last four or five years. He’s got to take a massive step back.
“Joshua, in a way, has already been somewhat demystified. Is he powerful? Yeah, but he couldn’t knock out Andy Ruiz in the rematch. Is he a great boxer? Yeah, he’s an Olympic gold medalist, but if Usyk out-boxes him again, that’ll be two straight times that he’s been outboxed in a fight.
“If he gets beat, you throw some of the names like Dillian Whyte on that list as well, but I don’t think a fight against Tyson Fury has anywhere near the type of significance that it would have if he wins.
“I don’t think a fight against Deontay Wilder is anywhere near as significant as it would have been a few years ago. I think his career will continue, but his status as a top heavyweight will be completely gone,” said Mannix about Joshua.
“No, because people will still want to see him against the guys that are better than him,” said Mora bout AJ. “Better heavyweights are ranked higher than him.
“People will want to see the star, the name that they recognize. That’s all that matters in this game. It’s about marketability, and if you’re able to get a promoter to market that fight against a younger up-and-coming fighter, it’s going to sell. The young lion against an old lion. That always sells.
“That story never goes away, and Joshua, as you said, is an Olympic gold medalist, a two-time heavyweight champion. We know that he can come back, regroup and do great things.
“He’s going to do it again, but against Usyk, stylistically, there are guys that just have your number. I think stylistically, Usyk has Joshua’s number.
Joshua’s confidence will be shot
“Once this fight is over with, and Joshua doesn’t come out with the victory, he’s going to have to move on quickly, but he’s not going to go to the back of the line. He’s just going to go to the next man in line,” said Mora about Joshua.
“What is a loss again? It’s three out of five; that would be his record,” said Mannix about Joshua. “What would it do to his confidence?
“Is he going to have a run of success and be the dominance he had in the Wladimir Klitschko fight and the ones immediately after? That’s going to be gone. “So, I think he’s going to need to rebuild his confidence as well, and he’s not a young fighter anymore.
“I know heavyweights can fight for a long time, no question about it, but he’s going to need to do some serious rebuilding if he loses this fight [against Usyk], and I’m not sure after that he’s going to be able to get back to that elite level,” said Mannix.
“At 32 years old, that’s still young. He hasn’t taken physical beatings,” said Mora about Joshua. “He took one beating against Andy Ruiz. Usyk didn’t beat him down. He outboxed him, he outpointed him and gave him a shiner.
“It wasn’t a physical fight. I think he has a lot of career left there. Big men, they can fight. As long as you have power, you can continue fighting into the later stages of your career.
“Usyk is just the wrong style match-up [for Joshua]. Once this fight is over with, go back to fighting bangers. Guys that can punch, guys that are equally as big as you, guys that you’re accustomed to fighting.
“You don’t fight smaller, great cruiserweight that are coming up in weight and know how to use their feet, and use angles, southpaw snipers.
“Those are the wrong style match-up for any weight division. Any boxer will tell you that,” said Mannix.